NaNoWriMo stars tomorrow! Let’s do this!
“What did you do today?”
“Oh, just tinkered around a bit in the lab.”
“When is that little company of yours going to get off the ground, finally?”
“Soon, my dear. Soon.”
“That’s what you always say, ‘soon.’”
“I thought you believed in me. In my ideas.”
“I did. I just don’t think I can support you and your…delusions any longer.”
“What are you saying?”
She took a bite of her risotto and commented, “This is absolutely fabulous!”
“What did you mean when you said you can’t support me any longer?”
“I meant I don’t think this is working,” she muttered while shoveling a very unladylike portion into her mouth. “This is just extraordinary.”
“I’m glad you like it.” A woman emerged from the shadows. An exact replica of her, down to the arrangement of freckles across her nose and cheeks.
He watched unmoved as his wife gagged, finally falling face first into her plate.
With hundreds of back orders already for the DreamWoman 1.0, his “little company” was a runaway success. He took his great love, and greatest creation, into his arms.
For Flash Friday!
Read pt. 1 Pink Dress
Read pt. 2 Stranger
Read pt. 3 Two Little Girls
I’m hiding in the dark. A tiny shed in the backyard. Behind the lawnmower and neatly stacked bags of fertilizer. I’m kicking myself. Why didn’t I just run to the road? Flag down a car? Bang on a neighbor’s door and beg to be let in? Now I’m trapped. All that’s left to do is wait.
The door creaks open. She still smells of basil and garlic.
“It didn’t have to be this way, darling. I’ve grown so fond of you over the years.” She steps closer and closer to me. “But I’m fonder of my freedom.” The bags that conceal me are knocked over with ease, and she standing over me, pointing a gun. “You always hid in here when you were a little girl. Sad, but I think you inherited your mother’s brain.”
She points the gun at my chest with cold precision. I realize that this is probably the last sight my mother had before she died. For some reason, that thought comforts me. I’m not afraid. The last sound I hear is an explosion. Then no pain, just darkness.
June 23, 2000
Well, this won’t do. Lauren, of course, had gone national. America was in love with her. Wept with her. She and her crocodile tears were the lead story on every news program in the country. Everyone’s heart broke for the little girl in the pink dress and the mother who blamed herself. Cora couldn’t escape her. It made her blood boil.
She looked at the baby girl in the playpen, happily gnawing on a wooden block, and smiled. She’d grown fond of the little girl over the past few days. She hadn’t cried for her mother once, so that was a point in her favor, and she seemed to adore Cora. Her eyes lit up and she reached for her whenever she entered the room.
She could do this. She could be a mother. They were settling into their new life – new names, new town, new backstories. Coming to a huge bustling city had been the right choice. No one had given her or the baby a second look. She dressed her in dark clothes, sports-themed gear. People assumed she was a boy. A few had even remarked how cute her son was. She only smiled and nodded. They could get lost here.
She drove through the night, arriving outside Lauren’s palatial McMansion at dawn. Tacky. She parked down the street and watched. Her husband left an hour or so later wearing a dark suit and a grave expression. Already back at work.
She crept around back and let herself in through a sliding glass door left unlocked. Lauren was sitting at the breakfast table, sobbing, a cooling cup of coffee in front of her untouched.
“You…” was the only word she said before she crumpled to the floor, a hole in her chest.
Cora returned to the car, unseen, and slowly drove away. She stole a look at the baby in the back seat and blew her a kiss. “Now, darling, I really am your mother.” The baby cooed back.
Read pt. 4 The Star
She had his phone. He didn’t know. Of course, he knew he didn’t have it. Just not who had it. She’d had it all day. She sat dumbfounded that morning, watching the texts roll in rapid fire.
Where are you?
I’m still at the hotel.
Don’t do this to me.
I love you.
Is that you at the door?
She loved him. She really did. That was the hardest part. But there would be time for tears later. She would go away somewhere, maybe with her mom or one of her closest friends, they would drink wine and cry and curse his name. But now, now was the time for war.
“They’re ready for you, miss,” said the smartly dressed receptionist.
She entered the conference room, where his lawyer and hers were waiting. His and hers attorneys – isn’t that how all great love stories begin and end?
“So,” her attorney asked. “Any questions about the prenuptial agreement before you sign?”
“Yes,” she responded, slipping off her sunglasses before she had a seat across from them. She twirled her massive engagement ring around her finger. It caught the sunlight beaming through the wall of windows across the room, blinding the lawyers for a second. They squinted at her. “I’d like to revisit the adultery clause.”
“I don’t like Batman…I like Robin,” said my two-year-old niece, completely confounding me. What does she mean she doesn’t like Batman? All kids love Batman. Who would rather be Robin than Batman?
“Why do you like Robin?” I asked, holding up a DVD cover with a picture of the cartoon versions of the characters.
“See,” she pointed to the picture. “Batman is big…Robin is small, like me.”
I kissed her curly head and put her down on the floor to play. On the drive home, I thought about my niece, how she’s the youngest of four, probably ignored and pushed aside by her siblings, fighting for attention, to not get lost in all the chaos. No wonder she found a kindred spirit in the Boy Wonder. She learned an important lesson from him – even if you’re the smallest one in the room, you aren’t powerless.
We all are the “Robin” in our relationships sometimes. Part of being a good friend is knowing when to step aside and let someone else have the spotlight. And if they are a truly good friend, they know when to step back and let us play Batman for a little while.
This river had saved Kara. She’d fallen asleep on its banks in the summer and dreamed. She’d tiptoed precariously along its jagged rocks and laughed with her sister.
She’d moved far away. To a place where she could wake up in the morning and walk to the ocean. For her family, she’d returned, but only for a few days. The ocean always called her back.
A young girl deposited her bike in the dirt and sat along the riverbank, retrieving a journal from her backpack. Kara smiled and walked back to her car, leaving the girl alone to dream.
I only learned about this species of deer a few months ago. According to Wikipedia, pudú are the smallest species of deer, ranging in size from 32 to 44 centimeters (13 to 17 in) tall, and up to 85 centimeters (33 in) long. Unfortunately, they are on the endangered species list due to over-hunting and loss of habitat. I hope we are able to enjoy the beauty of these remarkable animals for generations to come.
Enjoy the video!
Inspired by this week’s Story A Day prompt.
Angie’s long shift was finally over. She stretched her legs and poked her bare feet out of the open car window, enjoying the breeze as the cars and trees whipped by. Her mom told her she was crazy to post a flyer at the college looking for someone to share a ride across the country. What if a crazy person responds?
Angie thought that most people would consider her to be the crazy person. She insisted on taking her large German Shepherd, Susie, with her. A retired police dog, she looked scary but was as docile as a lamb. At the moment, Susie was curled up on the back seat, snoozing, seeming to smile in her sleep. After a long life of forced labor, Angie wanted Susie to enjoy her golden years. She had a bag full of homemade snacks for Susie at her feet, and insisted they stop every two hours so Susie could go for a short walk. She worried she’d get claustrophobic stuck in the car all those hours unless they took frequent breaks.
Joe agreed to all of her terms. He was the only person to respond. The only person going the same direction she was. He said finding her flyer was destiny, telling him it was time to finally meet his true love, starshinegal08 aka Mara. They’d been playing StarShine, an online game, for years alongside each other. Their avatars had been on countless adventures together. They’d spent hours chatting late into the night about their lives. But they’d had yet to lay eyes on each other. Not even a picture. Mara thought that would make it more romantic when they saw each other in person.
On the side of the highway, waving frantically, was a girl wearing a dress covered in pink feathers and clear high heeled shoes that increased her diminutive height by at least five inches. Her white blond hair was in what Angie believed was called a bouffant, piled high and unmoving, despite her efforts to flag them down. It was a either a gravity-defying freak of nature or benefiting from an obscene amount of hairspray. Angie noticed Joe was slowing down, that the car was veering to the right.
“What are you doing??!!” Angie sat upright.
Joe shrugged. “She looks like she needs help.”
“She could be deranged!”
“Does she look dangerous?”
“Neither did Ted Bundy…” Angie mumbled under her breath as the car came to a stop. The girl leaned in the open window.
“Thank y’all so much for stoppin’!” She spoke in a Southern drawl. “I was on a cross country bus trip with the Miss Magonlia USA pageant. I’m Miss Georgia Magnolia…” she indicated her pale pink sash “…and well there was some trouble on the bus and I seem to have lost my ride. Could I trouble y’all for a ride to the next town? I hear there’s a bus station.”
“They ditched you?” Joe asked.
The pageant queen lowered her eyes and nodded.
I wonder why, Angie thought, crossing her arms.
“That’s horrible!” Joe was incredulous, clearly unaware of all the ways girls like that employed to torture each other. “Sure we can give you a ride. If you don’t mind sharing the backseat with Susie.”
“Oh, I just adore dogs! I don’t mind at all.” She scurried around the front of the car and hopped in the backseat, while Angie glared at him.
“It’s just for a few miles.” Joe insisted.
Susie sleepily eyed her new seatmate, before closing her eyes and putting her head on her lap.
“Where are my manners! My name’s Lola. Really Magnolia, but everyone calls me Lola. Mama knew when I was in the womb I was gonna be Miss Magnolia USA.”
“Hi Lola. I’m Joe and this is Angie.”
“Nice to meet y’all! Thanks so much again! I don’t know what I would have done if y’all hadn’t come along…”
Lola’s damsel in distress act was growing thin, so Angie popped in her earbuds and turned up the volume, letting Adele lull her to sleep.
She woke again when she felt the car come to a stop, opening her eyes to see a huge hot dog statue in towering in front of her. Home of the Six Foot Hot Dog! The sign above the statue declared.
“Lola was hungry,” Joe offered as explanation when he noticed Angie’s confusion.
Well, we can’t have America’s Sweetheart’s stomach grumbling. Angie stumbled from the car, opening the door to let Susie out as Joe and Lola made their way inside the diner. After walking Susie, Angie went inside to peruse the menu, noticing that the only item that accommodated her vegetarian diet were the french fries. She ordered a large basket of fries with a soda and reluctantly joined Joe and Lola. At least the fries were perfect, hot, crisp and salty. She noticed Joe seemed distressed as she sat.
“…so you’ve never seen this girl, this Mara?” Lola asked, a cruel twist to her voice
Joe shook his head.
“…not even a picture?”
“She thought it was…romantic, I guess…”
Lola screamed with laughter, her hot dog forgotten. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to laugh, but that is just the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. But I mean, I guess that’s the only way some people can meet…”
“..and you.” Lola turned to face Angie. “Driving cross country so your dog can see the ocean for the first time?”
“You told her?!” Angie yelled at Joe.
“She asked where we were headed. I didn’t think you’d mind…”
“I’m sorry, but that is just the most pathetic thing I’ve ever heard. A vacation with your dog. At least Joe has someone to meet at the end of this trip. Allegedly.” Lola brazenly grabbed a french fry from Angie’s basket before hopping up. “I need to go to the ladies’ room and then we can get back on the road. Y’all excuse me.”
Lola sashayed down the aisle to the restrooms, reveling in all the male attention she received along the way.
Joe tried to wipe his wet eyes without Angie noticing. She noticed, but didn’t say anything. He’d been humiliated enough. Instead, she said, “Let’s ditch her!”
“What?” Joe asked, a smile slowly forming across his face.
“You heard me. Let’s go. Come on, hurry!”
She grabbed his hand and they ran back out to the car. Susie was roused from sleep as they screeched out of their parking spot. Lola burst through the front door, screaming some language very unbecoming of a Miss Magnolia USA at the retreating car. Joe and Angie laughed so hard their stomachs hurt.
“Oops,” Joe said a mile down the road, still chuckling.
“What?” Angie asked, wiping tears of mirth from her eyes.
“I think we left her with the bill.”
I had no idea 250 novels written through NaNoWriMo were traditionally published, including Fangirl, one of my favorites! Great read.
It fit! It finally fit. The dress that she’d been wearing the night she met Tom. She’d been at a fundraising ball to benefit one of the local museums, and had stepped into the garden for some fresh air. Tom was there too, hiding. The music from the band spilled through the open doors, and he’d asked her to dance. They were married a year later.
Lately, Tom stopped looking at her the way he once did. She killed herself in the gym for the past six months, determined to get into that magical dress again. And now she had. He would see her again.
“Are you ready?” Tom asked, heading for the door, barely giving her a backwards glance.
Her stomach fell. She felt the tears coming but refused to let them fall. “I don’t feel very well. I think I’ll stay home tonight.”
Tom let the door slam behind him as he left. She sat at the table and laid her head down, realizing maybe it was time she found her own magic.